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June 30 , 2004
Number 57, Volume 2

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Farmed Animal Watch is sponsored by Animal Place, Animal Welfare Trust, Farm Sanctuary, The Fund for Animals, Glaser Progress Foundation, and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals


Preliminary tests conducted by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) indicate two separate cases of possible Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE, or “mad cow” disease) in the United States. The first occurred on June 25, while the second possible case was announced on June 29. The USDA has maintained that the tests are inconclusive and that the findings show that there is no risk to human health. The dead animals’ bodies are undergoing further testing and results are expected within a few days. The potential BSE discoveries have come very soon after the USDA announced expanded BSE testing of more than 220,000 high-risk cows that began in early June 2004. Responding to the most recent news, one USDA official said that it was “not unexpected” that the expanded testing program would find BSE-positive animals. The first case of BSE in the US was discovered in December 2003 in Washington State (See FAW #39 - http://www.farmedanimal.net/Newsletters/Newslettern39v2.htm).

“USDA Surveillance Yields another Inconclusive BSE Test,” Meatingplace.com, Ann Bagel, June 30, 2004

“Inconclusive BSE Test Result Should Not Cause Consumer Concern,” The Poultry Site, June 28, 2004

USDA News Releases:
June 29: http://www.usda.gov/Newsroom/0266.04.html
June 25: http://www.usda.gov/Newsroom/0263.04.html


In May 2004 it was announced that 33 million pounds of processed beef had entered the US from Canada over a six month period, despite a ban on such products due to the discovery of BSE in Alberta last year (See FAW #52 - http://www.farmedanimal.net/Newsletters/Newslettern52v2.htm). Now several US senators are saying that the USDA also allowed the import of cows’ brains and spinal cords, known as “specified risk materials,” for carrying BSE. Senate minority leader Tom Daschle and others are calling for an investigation by the USDA’s inspector general, as well as congressional hearings. The department is also under fire from food and consumer groups, who on June 22 issued a “report card” of the USDA’s handling of BSE. The department was given a “B” for its policy against allowing “downed” animals in the human food supply and a “C” for identification and tracking of cows. The USDA received lower grades for eight other issues, including BSE testing, meat recalls, and labeling.

In related news, one researcher of BSE and other “brain-wasting” diseases has released data indicating that the cause of such diseases may be bacterial instead of coming from “prions” (malformed proteins). Challenging the perspective of most scientists, Dr. Frank Bastian says he may have uncovered a link between chronic wasting disease (similar to BSE, but affecting deer) and scrapie, the equivalent in sheep. The evidence has yet to be verified, however, as scientists continue to debate the issue.

“Democrats Say USDA Eased Mad Cow Rules for Canada, Reuters via AlertNet, Randy Fabi, June 24, 2004

“Groups Chide USDA on Mad Cow, “ The Associated Press, June 23, 2004

“Mad Cow-like Diseases Linked by Bacteria,” United Press International, Steve Mitchell, June 25, 2004


99% of the nearly 22,000 public comments received by the USDA favor a ban on slaughtering “downed” animals for human consumption, according to a new report from The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). The estimate is based on more than 5,200 comments released by the USDA for public viewing, some from industry groups that favor the ban. However, there is significant disagreement among industry groups, and several have changed their positions on the ban since it was originally proposed following the discovery of BSE in a downed animal last December. HSUS cites the National Milk Producers Federation, which in May 2004 reversed its position that the downer ban’s impact would be “fairly minor” for farmers. Responding to these and similar pressures, two US congressional representatives in April introduced a bill to reverse the downer ban. HSUS chief executive Wayne Pacelle, “This bill would gut the common sense definition of ‘downer’ that was established at the end of 2003 by the USDA.”

“Report: Public Comments Show Support for 'Downer' Ban,” Meatingplace.com, Ann Bagel, June 30, 2004

“Industry Backpedals on Mad Cow but Public Support for Downer Ban Is Clear,” HSUS, Karen Graham


A lawsuit has been filed against the Washington State Attorney General’s office for alleged violation of public records laws relating to the state’s investigation of IBP in 2000. Humane Farming Association (HFA), an animal advocacy group, complained to the Attorney General four years ago that cows at the IBP plant were being “strung up and processed alive.” According to an HFA news release, public documents indicate that the state’s investigation was tainted by a pre-formed communication plan and an evident desire to protect IBP. The HFA suit claims that the state misused “statutory exemptions to avoid accountability for favoritism toward the company that was supposed to be the target of the criminal investigation.” HFA also claims to have documented proof that IBP continues the inhumane and potentially illegal practice of processing live animals.

“Animal-rights Group Sues Attorney General's Office,” The Associated Press, Donna Gordon Blankinship, June 26, 2004

“Gregoire Documents Show ‘Big Beef’ Runs the Show,” United Poultry Concerns, Greg Howard, June 25, 2004
http://lists.envirolink.org/pipermail/ar-news/Week-of-Mon-20040621/026338.html (AR-News link)


Intensive farming of animals is making food less nutritious and increasing the risk of diseases spreading from animals to humans. A group of international scientists has warned that moving animals from grass-based feed to the predominantly grain-based feed used for intensive farming may eventually lead to widespread mental illness. The researchers say that using grain-based feed results in relatively higher levels of omega-6 lipids in humans compared to omega-3 lipids. One scientist said of the finding, “We are facing a health crisis more serious and more dangerous than that posed by obesity in the West.” Elevated levels of omega-6s and lower levels of omega-3s are linked to depression and behavior issues.

Another study by researchers from the US and China has found that avian influenza is mutating into more deadly strains that may prove significantly more fatal for mammals, including humans. A comparison of strains of avian influenza from 1999/2000 and 2001/2002 showed that the latter group was significantly more pathogenic to mice during laboratory tests. The increased risk to mammals has prompted the researchers to call for quick and decisive action from government and industry. Avian influenza has been found on chicken farms in several states in the US, most recently in Texas.

“Food Defect Could Make Thousands Mentally Ill,” The Guardian, Robin McKie, June 27, 2004

“Study: Bird Flu Mutating into More Deadly Threat,“ Reuters via Planet Ark, Maggie Fox, June 29, 2004

“Texas Finds another Case of Bird Flu,” Washington Times, June 23, 2004


In the UK, a new undercover investigation has revealed that pheasants and partridges bred for “shooting estates” are raised in “appalling” conditions. Of the estimated 20 million pheasants bred for hunting each year, a large number die before being sold; one farm reported a mortality rate of about 8% is considered successful. Throughout the UK, this translates to an estimated 1.5 million birds that die prematurely due to intensive confinement and disease. The investigation also details specific acts of abuse, including workers “bashing” the head of a disabled bird against the wall to kill it and using cigarette lighters to cauterize wounds. One industry representative defended the practice as consistent with other farming methods, saying it is “no different from any other type of livestock farming.”

“Scandal of Factory Farmed Pheasants,” The Observer, Antony Barnett, June 27, 2004


“Understanding and Control of Gangrenous Dermatitis in Poultry Houses,” University of Arkansas, June 2004
In brief: Looks at the problem of Gangrenous Dermatitis among “broiler” chickens and discusses methods of prevention and control; also discusses other welfare abuses and sufferings including cellulitis, viruses, and increasing hysteria and lack of resistance to stress in the birds. (Thanks to Karen Davis for forwarding this article)

“Can Animals You Eat be Treated Humanely?” MSNBC, Jon Bonné, June 28, 2004
In Brief: Profiles Temple Grandin and her past and planned approaches to promote humane raising and slaughtering practices on US farms; also discusses her interest in the welfare of “broiler” chickens.

“Now, It's Not Personal!” WorldWatch Magazine, July/August 2004 issue
In Brief: How the “mass production and consumption of animal flesh has become a huge challenge to the stability of climate, forest cover, fresh water, and human health.”
http://www.worldwatch.org/pubs/mag/2004/174/ (To purchase article)

UK: “Animal Welfare Code to Guide Government Decision-Making,” PA News, Graham Hiscott, June 24, 2004
In Brief: The UK government has issued guidelines for its future decision-making regarding the health and welfare of all animals, including those on farms.

UK: “Egg-eating Halved Since 1975,” Farmers Weekly Interactive, June 24, 2004
In Brief: UK government indicates that British consumers eat half the amount of eggs and drink a third less milk than they did nearly thirty years ago.

“AVMA Responds Falsely to New York Times Ad,” United Poultry Concerns News Release, June 28, 2004
In Brief: Activist group United Poultry Concerns – who recently ran an ad in the NY Times criticizing the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) – claims the AVMA provided a false response to the ad.

“Cows' Poisoning an Accident,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Lewis Kamb, June 28, 2004
In Brief: A criminal investigation into the mysterious death of three cows in Washington State has shown that the cows were killed by a toxic substance on the farm, shutting down concerns over possible bioterrorism.

“French Reality TV's 'Celebrity Farm' Sued,” Big News Network.com, June 25, 2004
In Brief: French reality TV show is being sued by the providers of farmed animals for alleged mishandling that resulted in the death of at least 17 animals.


  1. Two Possible Discoveries of BSE in the US

  2. Other BSE News: International Trade; Science Update

  3. Comments to USDA Overwhelmingly Favor “Downer” Ban

  4. Group Sues State Attorney General for Beef Cover-Up

  5. Intensive Animal Farming Increasing Risk of Human Illness

  6. Investigation Shows Inhumane Treatment of Farmed Pheasants

  7. Other Items of Interest



Farmed Animal Watch is a free electronic news digest of information concerning farmed animal issues gleaned from an array of academic, industry, advocacy and mainstream media sources.

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